A key part of our work is not only delivering play-based teacher training to practicing teachers but also for student teachers. We do this through creating networks of Model Practice Classrooms surrounding Colleges of Education and Universities that are delivering early childhood education teacher training. Teachers in Model Practice Classrooms have all completed Sabre’s Transformational Teacher Training as well as an additional year of training equipping them with coaching and mentoring skills allowing them to host student teachers on their practical placements. As a result, these classrooms are able to support student teachers to translate their theory into practice.

Between 2013 and 2019 Sabre established a network of 73 Model Practice Classrooms in the Central Region of Ghana, and 90 Model Practice Classrooms in the Western Region. These classrooms have continued to host student teachers from two local Colleges of Education (OLA and Holy Child) each year.

Sabre prides itself on being a learning organisation and so Sabre’s Learning team recently re-visited the Model Practice Classrooms in the Central and Western Regions to assess how they were performing. Our key findings were as follows:

Using an adapted version of our Teacher Monitoring Tool we found that 32% of the classrooms were in a good state, 59% satisfactory, and 9% unsatisfactory. Teachers were assessed on four key criteria; lesson planning, classroom organisation, behavior management and availability of teaching and learning resources.

A key issue has been that the School Improvement Support Officers of the Ghana Education Service have found it challenging to monitor the Model Practice Classrooms in addition to their usual monitoring activities. We will support the Ghana Education Service to explore how monitoring of the Model Practice Classrooms can be incorporated into the monitoring they already carry out. A second key challenge for the teachers has been the introduction of the new kindergarten curriculum in 2019, many have found it challenging to adapt their teaching to the new curriculum.

A new Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood Education has recently been introduced to Colleges and Universities extending student teachers training from three to four years. In this new system student teachers spend a full semester on classroom placements in their fourth year. Given that this is a new system there are currently no fourth year students and so no student teachers were carrying out placements at the time of this assessments. The first cohort of fourth year students will carry out their placements during the next academic year.

We were however able to speak with tutors from the Colleges of Education in both regions and we were thrilled to hear that they observed that the Model Practice Classrooms were continuing to have a positive impact on the quality of the practical placements. They believed that student teachers in the Model Practice Classrooms came away with a much better understanding of play-based early years teaching as compared to teachers who went to other classrooms.

This assessment provided excellent learning for Sabre, which will be shared back with the Ghana Education Service and Colleges of Education in order to make improvements and maintain teaching standards in the Model Practice Classrooms. We also hope to work with the Ghana Education Service to organise a refresher training for teachers in the Model Practice Classrooms in order to support them to implement the new kindergarten curriculum.

We were delighted to hear from a former student teacher who is now successfully delivering play-based learning in her own Model Practice Classroom, proving just how valuable these quality practical placements can be:

“I was a student teacher in one of the Model Practice Classrooms and have now been posted to one as a teacher. I realised that the classroom was lively and the children are happy because of the resources we use in the classrooms. This serves as a great motivation for me because I feel they enjoy lessons better Teacher, Essawa MA Basic, STMA.

Our work improving the quality of training that student teachers in Ghana receive is just beginning. We have big plans to set up new networks of Model Practice Classrooms in the Eastern Region and Central Region of Ghana over the coming years to ensure that we are able to provide quality practical placements for hundreds more student teachers every year.